|Literally, written out plans.
It was 2006, I was 19 years old and on my first overseas adventure. I’m a highly organized person when it comes to paperwork and planning, so before I took off for Ireland, I created my very own travel packet with information on all my prebooked accommodation, bus schedules, and even how to get to and from the airport. I was as prepared as someone can be who is traveling alone to their first foreign country.
I spent my first two days in Dublin, and on day three I took Bus #012 from Dublin (Busáras) to Limerick (Bus Station). I had the depart and arrival times written out in my journal for easy access. I knew the name of the place I was staying, Summerville Budget Accommodation, booked through hostels.com. I even had walking directions from the bus station to the hostel. I tell you what, if anyone knew how to prepare it was me. I keep a running list of quotes and pull them out when I need inspiration. One that comes to mind for this situation is “Tourists don’t know where they’ve been, travelers don’t know where they’re going” (Paul Theroux). I was absolutely a tourist at that point, I was so prepared that it left little room for the unknown.
|Adorable Adare, Ireland.
I was exploring Limerick and having already seen King John’s castle that day, I took a walk to the tourism office to get myself a map of the city. When I was there I noticed a bus schedule going to a village called Adare. It wasn’t on my schedule, I hadn’t read about it before, but as my fingers idly fiddled with my new map of Limerick, I found myself asking how to get a bus to Adare. It was my first spur of the moment decision in traveling, ever. While I had never traveled out of the country (besides to Canada when I was very young), I had traveled quite a bit in the United States, but even then I was either following someone else’s plans or pre-decided ones of my own.
I hardly remember the bus ride, but I do remember stepping off the bus and entering into the most picturesque village I had seen in my entire life. It was straight out of a movie, adorable thatch roofed homes and attached multi-colored buildings nestled behind short stone walls. Did I mention it was a beautiful sunny day? When I arrived in Adare, immediately I could feel the history of that amazing town. With an ancient priory, two Abbeys and a Castle, this village of less than 2,500 people oozed history.
|The Franciscan Friary at the Adare Manor Golf Club.
I visited the Adare Heritage Centre and signed up for a tour of Desmond Castle. Desmond Castle was built in the early 13th century. Touring the grounds was fascinating, as they talked about the way the building used to look, including how the castle would have smelled because of the stalls where inhabitants would have relieved themselves…pleasant. After the tour I only had about an hour until my bus left for Limerick, but I ruins of an ancient stone building, in the middle of a golf course and felt drawn to explore them. The ruins were those of the Franciscan Friary in the middle of the Adare Manor Golf Club. Founded in 1464 by the 7th Earl of Kildare, the friary took two years to build. Before making my way to the ruins, I obtained permission from the golf club to go exploring (and to watch out for flying golf balls).
|Inside the friary.
Once I was finally standing in front of the friary, the ruins were the most magnificent thing I had ever seen. I explored every room, every crevice, ever broken staircase. I could feel the enormity of its past. Ivy was growing on the walls, and grass replaced what was once a floor. To me, that made it all the more beautiful. Preserved on a working gold course, these ruins were poignant reminder of times past. As I said before, I was always planning everything, and this extended beyond just trips. I was always planning my life. Looking forward instead of enjoying the present, and while it took me years to learn how to live in the moment (a skill I am still practicing), at that Abbey I truly appreciated where I was right then. Instead of a longing for something, I was finally feeling something. Running my fingers along the faded carvings on the wall, and climbing over fallen stone walls, I felt my future melding into my present. It was that time and place which changed me from a tourist to a traveler. I was at just at the beginning of my journey as a globe trotter, but it had begun. Discovering something I had not known before and had not planned for, opened up the world for me.
“Travel is more than the seeing of sights;
it is a change that goes on, deep and
permanent, in the ideas of living.”
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